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Best & Worst of the Presidential Debate: Barack Obama Wakes Up, Mitt Romney Throws Down

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney Getty Images

You couldn't accuse anyone of being asleep tonight.

After his own party accused him of not showing up for round one, President Barack Obama looked plenty alive against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a town hall-style debate at New York's Hofstra University, moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley.

Once again, we won't venture to guess who blew less smoke—that's for the fact checkers to determine—but here are the most memorable moments (Big Bird did come up) from Tuesday's showdown between the commander in chief and the man looking to have him fired next month:

Highs and lows of the first presidential debate

Best Muppet to the Gut: "We haven't heard...any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood," Obama said of Romney's plan to cut the federal deficit, memorably namechecking the governor's favorite, albeit doomed, Sesame Street character.

I'm Talkin' Here!: There was much more interrupting this time, with Obama apparently taking a cue from Vice President Joe Biden and Romney intercepting a number of handoffs meant for Crowley.

Best Use of Red and Blue: The fiery carpet beneath the candidates feet made the venue look like another circle of Hell, while the blue walls made for a welcome respite for the eyes when the camera zoomed in.

Obama weighs in on the Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj debate

Even Better Than the Real Thing: Romney has no plan to cut "wind jobs"—they're a real thing, after all—but he's more of a coal, oil and natural gas man. "Candy, I don't have a policy of stopping wind jobs in Iowa, they"re not phantom jobs, they're real jobs," Romney informed the moderator after Obama accused him of being eco-unfriendly, after Romney accused him of slashing federal grants for water and land-based drilling.

Trendiest Talking Points:

• Wind jobs was trending on Twitter, because that's just sexy.

• Big Bird, goes without saying.

 • Lilly Ledbetter, because Obama called Romney out for not committing to signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

• Binders full of women, because that's what Romney says he had his gubernatorial staff bring him when he wondered why so many prospective cabinet members were men. 

• One point plan, because that's what Obama accused Romney of having, rather than a five-point plan.

Million Muppet March planned to defend PBS and Sesame Street from budget cuts

• SB1070, because,as Obama pointed out, Romney's immigration adviser helped design the proposed Arizona law that would have allowed police to stop anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

• Fast and Furious, because Romney namechecked the rather disastrous Obama administration plan to arm drug-enforcement agents in Mexico with guns, many of which ended up being used to kill innocent people.

Pension Envy: "It's not as big as yours," Obama cracked to Romney when the former Bain Capital honcho asked the president to take a closer look at his own pension.

Obama vs. Romney: Pop culture war!

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